Experience tells as mixed doubles goes to Canada

Canada's curlers have been crowned champions of the Winter Games mixed doubles tournament, after an ice-cool performance against Scotland in the final yesterday at the Maniototo curling rink in Naseby.

It was a match-up between wily veterans and young hotshots, as the Canadian duo of Olympic gold medallist Jennifer Jones and three-time world champion Brent Laing took on 2017 Scottish mixed doubles champions Fraser Kingan and Jayne Stirling.

The Scots had been in fine form all week. Their only loss in nine games came against their final foes in pool play, and they progressed through a tough semifinal 12-7 against Norway.

Canada was unbeaten throughout the tournament, but had struggled to a 6-5 semifinal victory against its North American neighbour, the United States.

Korey Dropkin, of the United States, makes sure the direction of the stone is perfect during the...
Korey Dropkin, of the United States, makes sure the direction of the stone is perfect during the Winter Games curling competition in Naseby yesterday. Photos: Sean Nugent

However, the Canadians came out strongly in the final, and took a commanding 4-0 lead after the first end.

The Scots fought back to even it up a 5-all at the halfway stage, but the experienced Laing and Jones were unfazed and took complete control of the match, eventually running out comfortable winners with a 9-5 scoreline.

Kingan and Stirling were made to rue a missed chance to go ahead in the sixth end, which Kingan believed was the turning point.

"They got further ahead and it was always going to be hard to come back at that stage.

"The way the game went, it was quite back and forward. We had our chances but we just never took them."

Laing described the match as "wild" after a couple of mistakes allowed the Scots to storm back, but said neither he nor Jones panicked.

"We've got a lot of experience. We were never going to panic, we know that. We've been around too long too many years to panic. We've seen a lot in this game and I think that certainly helps in these situations."

"It was a bit of a wild final but we came out on top so it's great. It's always great to win an event."

Canada's Jennifer Jones keeps a close eye on the direction of her throw as partner Brent Laing...
Canada's Jennifer Jones keeps a close eye on the direction of her throw as partner Brent Laing sweeps it into place.

Jones believed "making the big shots when we have to" was the key to remaining unbeaten and she was pleased to taste success at the start of their season.

She said they had "loved" their time in Naseby and would come back to New
Zealand every year if they could.

"Loved every second of it. The people, the country, the food, the hospitality, the curling . . . it's been an incredible experience."

The United States claimed the bronze medal after defeating Norway 8-1 in the match to determine third place.

Three Kiwis have qualified for the junior world championship freeski and snowboard slopestyle finals to be held at Cardrona today - Zoi Sadowski-Synnott in women's snowboard, and Ben Harrington and Fraser McClellan in men's freeski.

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